JONES, Edward (d.c.1609), of Gray's Inn, , London.
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Family and Education
educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1574; Oxf. c.1583; ?G. Inn 1588. m. lic. 1595, Margaret (d.1625), wid. of Richard Braynthwayte, serjeant-at-law.
Escheator, Kent and Mdx. 1591; burgess, Portsmouth 1600; dep. clerk of the Star Chamber 1608.
The Merchant Taylors’ register describes Jones as the son of a mariner. He once asserted that, although one of the meanest of his kindred, he was well descended, having been educated as a gentleman in England and abroad, where he had ‘travelled to attain the languages’. His career suggests a university background, and he may have been one of three men of his name who are known, within the same decade, to have matriculated at Oxford. More specifically, he was probably either the Edward Jones who matriculated on 19 Apr. 1583 at Gloucester Hall at the age of 17, or the one who matriculated at St. Mary Hall on 17 June 1584, when aged 21. An Edward Jones was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1588 and expelled, probably temporarily, two years later for disorders committed together with a band of young companions. This expulsion casts doubt on whether this student was the MP, for the behaviour hardly fits a man who had served Warwick as early as 1586 and who, all his life, was an earnest place-seeker. However, Jones was of Gray’s Inn, for he was described as such when he married his wealthy widow, mother of seven children, whose late husband had been known to a number of eminent persons, including the Earl of Huntingdon, Lord Buckhurst and Lord Keeper Puckering. On balance, therefore, it seems that the MP was not the student admitted in 1588, but that he had either obtained an honorary admission to Gray’s Inn, possibly through the influence of Warwick, or that he merely had chambers there. After serving a number of masters Jones eventually became foreign secretary to Puckering, the lord keeper, and, he claimed, served on two embassies to France, one of which was in 1593. William Waad had a high opinion of his French, and in this connexion his reputation as a translator of books may be noted. After Puckering’s death in 1596, there was some question of Jones becoming a fifth secretary to Essex. The appointment was opposed by Edward Reynolds who argued that Jones had ‘no extraordinary parts or rare gifts’. Instead, he seems to have found employment with Lord Keeper Egerton and subsequently became a follower of Francis Bacon. Jones had corresponded with the Bacon brothers several years before, and in 1593, while in France, had sent Francis Bacon a news-letter from Melun. Bacon supported his attempt to become one of Essex’s secretaries and in 1601 apparently tried to help him get the post of secretary to the council in the north. When, in 1608, Bacon became a clerk of the Star Chamber, he appointed Jones as his deputy. Earlier, Jones had offered £300 to Sir Robert Cecil for the office of secretary for the French tongue in 1596 and made strenuous efforts to enter Cecil’s service.2
By one means or another Jones had saved £4,000 by 1600, with which he attempted to purchase a share, jointly with (Sir) Robert Sidney, of a lease of the Queen’s house of Otford in Kent. In the event he made a mortal enemy of Sidney. At about the same time, Jones committed a breach of etiquette at the hearing of a play, for which he was reprimanded by the 11th Lord Cobham in the presence of his wife and friends. Whatever his offence, it cost him, by his own account, £1,000 to repair.3
How Jones came to be returned to Parliament for his two Cornish boroughs is not clear. His patron at Portsmouth was probably the 8th Lord Mountjoy, captain of the town and lord lieutenant of the county, but here again, it is not clear how he came to be chosen. There were three other Joneses sitting in 1597 and two others in 1601, and only two contributions to the business of the House may be certainly attributed to the Gray’s Inn man. One is a speech (28 Nov. 1601) advocating the committal of a scrivener named Holland to the Tower for a breach of privilege, the other was on 12 Dec. that year when he ‘pulled out’ Lionel Duckett to vote against his will for the church attendance bill. The date of Jones’s death has not been ascertained. A by-election was held to replace the 1604 Cirencester MP early in 1610.4
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
This biography is based upon material provided by the late Mr. L. W. Henry.
- 1. Did not serve for the full duration of the Parliament.
- 2. London Mar. Lic. (Harl. Soc. xxv), 222; Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, ii. 596; PCC 2 Clarke, 87 Dixy; HMC Hatfield, ix. 27; xiv. 288; xvi. 443-4; xvii. 604; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 136; 1603-10, p. 366; Birch, Mems. i. 87, 90, 91, 118; ii. 106-7; Hawarde, Les Reportes del Cases in Camera Stellata ed. Baildon, 369; Portsmouth Recs. 347; Lansd. 77, f. 133; Oxf. Univ. Reg. ed. Boase; C. E. Plummer, Eliz. Oxford .
- 3. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 428, 452, 453; HMC Hatfield, xiv. 288; xvi. 444.
- 4. Townshend, Hist. Colls. 260; D’Ewes, 684.